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Author Topic: EP097: Cinderella Suicide  (Read 18484 times)
Russell Nash
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« on: March 16, 2007, 04:07:18 AM »

EP097: Cinderella Suicide

By Samantha Henderson.
Read by MarBelle (of Director’s Notes).
First appeared in Strange Horizons, May 2006.

List, then. 1788, New Holland becomes New South Wales, and dear England starts to send her slithies there, her dribs and drabs and pick-pocks and whores and cutthroats, to drain the cesspool Britannia’s become. And then we pin the gravitational constant, and solve Pringle’s Mysterious Logarithm, and then just when we’re ready for it there’s an explosion of a different sort (I’m a proud product of my state school, whoreboy though I became). From the skies over Van Diemen’s Land streaks a merry flaming angel arcing down to earth and boom! Kills most of the slithies, and their Bulls, and the Murri and the Nunga in their Dreamtime too, far as any know. Sky goes red from Yangtze to Orkney. A few Nunga are left, fishing the Outer Isles. And more slithies come soon, for England’s still all-of-cess, and we’d just as soon have them die.

But! Scattered all about, like Father Christmas tossing pennies, rare earth, yttrium and scandium in luscious ashy chunks. And soon there are Magnetic Clocks, and Automatons, and Air-Cars, and good Queen Vickie trulls about in a Magnetic Carriage like everybody else. But still there is cess, and ever will be, pretend as they might at home, so still the slithies are transported.

And a good thing for Merrie Olde too, because nowhere is there as much rare earth as Australia, being that’s where the Great Boom happened, and nothing so useful for gathering ore and jellies as a big jolly family of convicts. Work for the Squatters when you’re Docked; work for them after you serve your time and are pensioned, but on your own terms. Or whore-about. Or prentice to the tech gnomes. Or mine gold, which never goes out of style. Or wander the Nullarbor, looking for the Source, and die. Or fish with the Nunga, if they’d have you, which they won’t. Stick with your duet/triune mates, if you would live out the year.

Always something to do.

But don’t fly, not much, because the variable-mag will crash you deep, and don’t depend on Carriages to work all the time. Beware your metal, for it can betray you.


Rated PG. Contains violence, unsavory characters, and opaque slang.



Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


Referenced Links:
Scott Sigler
Podiobooks.com
« Last Edit: September 10, 2009, 12:34:58 PM by Russell Nash » Logged
.Morph.
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« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2007, 06:33:56 AM »

I havent listened to this yet but i read it in the text format on Strange horizons last year and thought it was great.
I'm looking forward to the listen Cheesy
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« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2007, 08:46:23 AM »

I've listened to about half this story so far (during my morning commute)... can't wait to hear the rest.

I like alternate history sci-fi, and this one is right weird.

Early-Industrial Australian Steampunk, I guess.

Only a matter of time before a GURPS supplement comes out for it.
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2007, 11:51:45 AM »

Wow!
I enjoyed the hell out of this story! Any chance Ms. Henderson has more stories of this trio?
This adventure was missing a little something, and I think that think is that it was only a few thousand words long. This story sounds like it could, very comfortably, have a whole world around it.
MarBelle had a great accent for this piece, though it was a little difficult to catch some of the slang. But I'm not sure if that's because of the accent, or in spite of it. It's possible I wasn't paying attention or that the words were just too foreign for me to know how to interpret them.
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2007, 12:33:45 PM »

I enjoyed the prose a lot, but I spent almost the whole story trying to figure out what was going on. What are slithies? Why is there such a powerful magnetic field and why if its so dangerous to have metal in your body, would someone get such extensive implants. Furthermore how, if these characters are so downtrodden, did they drum up the cash for the surgery?

I followed the middle bit where the Cinderellas are going after the source, because I sort of had an idea of what their goal was, but then it all got muddled again at the end. Who was talking to them? Did they find the source? Was the bird thing the source?

I'd like to read this in text some time as I probably missed something listening to the recording. It reminded me of the poem Jabberwocky. I only have a shadow of understanding about what actually happened, but the crackle and pop of the language and imagery made it entertaining anyway.

Perhaps the slithies are toves that are gyring and gimbling in the wabe. Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2007, 12:45:07 PM »

I'm having to re-listen to the story and read along. Yes I admit I had problems following the podcast due to the thick Cockney accent of the reader. I guess, I'll have to admit fault on my part for this since others seem ok with the reading.  Undecided
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fiveyearwinter
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« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2007, 01:40:57 PM »

I loved the reading. It allowed the story to grab me, to surround me and pull me into its world. I ended up having to read along, but I still feel that this is one of Escape Pod's finest presentations to date.

Awesome!
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« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2007, 03:17:14 PM »

I cheated and pulled it up on Strange Horizons site to read along.  Interesting story, one of my EP favs thus far (I still have about 6 months of catch up to do).  I think this story is an amazing read (like most everything I read on Strange Horizons, and I have a much bigger backlog there!) but it does not work in audio.  At first I was blaming the reader, but it was just the slang and the dialect.  The reader did a fine job and I hope to hear more of him.
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DKT
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« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2007, 11:29:49 PM »

This story rocked!  I can't wait to listen to it again (and possibly read along on Strange Horizons).  This is easily one of my favorite stories of the new year right along with How Loneseome a Life Without Nerve Gas, and one of my favorite stories I've heard on this site.  I can't wait to listen to it again!

More steampunk, please  Grin
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2007, 12:10:52 AM »

It was...different.  Not my cup of tea (I don't like alt. his. all that much) but still pretty good.

Hey, when it gets me thinking about writting it can't be all bad!
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2007, 10:14:05 AM »

I couldn't wait and snuck my earbud into my ear at my desk at work to listen to the rest, this time while reading along with the text.

This alternate history would make a cool graphic novel series, followed by a movie directed by Terry Gilliam and starring Clive Owen.
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Talia
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« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2007, 06:10:36 PM »

I found this to be fairly challenging, but rewarding nonetheless. I did end up having to read along with the text as I listened to it: there was just too many unfamiliar words that I wasn't sure I wasn't just mishearing with the heavy accent. I wouldn't say I entirely 'get' it... I'm not really sure why these criminals wound up in duos or triads for instance, or exactly what state the rest of the world was in. The voice of the story felt real and honest to me, though..I felt like that's the thought pattern someone in that universe might actually follow, without having everything over explained, and I appreciated that.

I guess I stumbled a lot on some of the slang/terminology. I don't think I'm a stupid person; I'm not certain whether I'm simply not well read enough or if its just a lot of the slang is British/Aussie (I'm American).

Was it engrossing? Eventually. I did find it hard to follow at some points, though. I don't know, my feelings are mixed overall. Maybe, after all, I'm just not smart enough.
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Nobilis
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« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2007, 09:27:06 PM »

Between the accent and the slang I couldn't make heads or tails of it.  I stopped listening halfway through, completely frustrated.

Clearly, something was happening (an improvement over last week's story) but what it was, I can't begin to say.  Maybe if I were Australian it would have made more sense.

I'm not intending to make snarky remarks every week... but the last two really didn't do anything for me.

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600south
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« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2007, 02:37:07 AM »

I enjoyed it, eventually. Must admit I had a bit of trouble figuring out what was happening at first, but overall the tone and characterization worked well for me and it rewarded.

Oh, and though the setting is colonial Australia, neither the slang nor the reader's accent are Australian. Some of it is invented and some of it is of the time (19th century). sometimes you just have to use your imagination to figure out what they're talking about. It's one of the things I enjoy about the alternate-history genre.

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slic
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« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2007, 08:00:40 PM »

Between the regular British slang and the story slang, I must have missed half of what the author was telling me.  The accent of the reader hurt, as well.  It took me a few times before I understood him when he said Duet.
I think reading the story (and I'm glad to know I can see it online) would have made it less confusing.  As an audio story, even multiple hearings would not have helped.

Until I read the posts, I had no idea that this was alt history.  I figured future sci-fi, didn't even get that it was Earth.  Though, it goes to show how much language/our world changes over time.

From what I could understand, I found the exposition in the middle - something about Queen Vicky riding a car - too long.  Right in the middle of the action - it slowed the whole story down.
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2007, 09:57:28 AM »

I'm really amused that Australia ends up as the universe's prison colony.

Here’s some slang that might help make sense out of the story:
Dinkum: Honest, real, genuine http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-fai3.htm
Slithy: A portmanteau word coined by Lewis Carroll in his poem, "Jabberwocky." It combines the words "slimy" and "lithe."
Swizzlestick: Given the world, it’s probably slang for a non-magnetic (plastic/ceramic) blade of some kind.
Pulp, “Master Humphrey's Clock,” and “All the Year Round”: Two pulp periodicals (reading materials)
Topsy: Short for “topsy-turvy”, meaning ‘a mess’.
Nunga: Aborigines
Uluru: Ayers Rock, a monolith sacred to the Aborigines
Anagnu: Native to the Ayers Rock area.
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Biscuit
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« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2007, 06:46:40 PM »

Being a kiwi, I could pick up the Aussie slang pretty quickly, but I'm in the same boat that I was terribly confused for the longest time as my brain adjusted to the syntax and prose.

I can't say I enjoy alt history/steampunk/whatever-punk (I'm VERY unfamiliar with this genre, and if this is a good example of it, it's just not my cup of tea), but I am absolutely blown away by the talent of the writer to a) have such a wonderful vocabulary! b) put it all together to make a credible flow!

I agree that this story did not translate well to being read aloud. But it is very easy for me to see that, though I didn't like it, it was an incredibly well written story with a lot of imagination.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2007, 09:41:10 PM »

couldnt get into it (maaaybe because i was doin homework at the same time... probably missed huge chunks of it...) so i'll have to take another listen, due to the enormous amount of praise this story recieved.
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« Reply #18 on: March 20, 2007, 07:42:47 AM »

Well, I finally managed to listen to this one all the way through the second time!  I have to say that Thaurismunth's glossary was very usefull for the second listening, I got abotu 1/4 of the way through the first time before the relentless slang became too much for me.

I have to say that overall I liked it, it's well paced and has some interesting ideas.  I'm still not completely sure of everything that happened, I may have to go back over it one day with a hefty Slang Dictionary.

The slang was hard going to listen through, but it did a very vivd feel for the setting. 

I was quite amused by some of the other poster's comments about the "thick cockney accent" believe it or not, this guy doesn't have a strong accent at all. By UK standards it's very light.  I'm not sure it's cockney, either, that's just the people from one small area of London, he's certainly southern, though.

Oh, and I got one of my comments read out! Yay!  Wait until I tell all my friends, and my family, and my pets, and any passers by that happen to be on my street and....why're you all looking at me like that?   Tongue

Simon Painter
Shropshire, UK
« Last Edit: March 20, 2007, 07:59:09 AM by madSimonJ » Logged

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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #19 on: March 20, 2007, 07:58:22 AM »

I've listened to this story three times, that make is my most listened to story, and enjoyed it more each time.
I did have a lot of trouble getting a mental picture of what the slang meant because it wasn't treated like anything special, it was just slang, and once I accepted that the exact nature of a 'slithy' must not be important (because the author didn't explain it) things were fine. I think something that made this story difficult to read was a combination of the use unfamiliar slang, and how casually the reader was able to use the words.
I think if an American reader had read the story the words would have sounded a bit more foreign coming from their lips and us listeners would have known and gotten the message "Ok, this is a weird word, just go with it." That said, I'm not sure I'd have enjoyed the story as much, or that it would have had as much atmosphere, had there been less of an accent.

Regarding MarBelle's reading, I hope he'll have a chance to read other pieces, and any (pre-)sequels to this piece.
And I'll have to check out his pod this weekend.
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